Transpositions – Recovering Data Remains: (Re)Working Knowledge

5 October 2017 8 October 2017

Exhibition within the project Transposition
Top floor, Färgfabriken

Participating artists: Daniel Peltz, Sissi Westerberg, Tina O’Connell, Neal White

The Exhibition Recovering Data Remains: (Re)Working Knowledge is part of the final research event for the project Transpositions: From science to art (and back).

Transpositions: From Science to art (and back) aims to provide an overview of the research. It brings concepts, data, artworks, and people together for a three-day set of events spread across Stockholm. It offers numerous opportunities to engage with transpositions in exhibitions, installations, performances, presentations, and discussions.

Science and art are usually held distinct due to the different kinds of processes they employ and the character of the conclusions that they draw. However, what if artists were to extend scientific methodologies while radicalising their stance in post-conceptual art under the heading ‘artistic research’? How can scientific data be pushed to the limits of representation?

We think that science and art will still follow their own respective trajectories, yet they will start to ‘talk’ to each other in unexpected ways once their practices are enmeshed. After working with scientists and their data from fields as separate as computational neuroscience, quantum mechanics, cosmology, and molecular biology, and after preparing our artistic responses, we want to find out the character of our scientific-artistic conversations and how we can push the work even further.

Transpositions are artistic forms created from scientific data that respect the epistemic potential of their material under aesthetic conditions. Extending representational registers, transpositions propose a new aesthetic-epistemic logic of material difference rather than formal identity. Placing the focus on transpositional operators – their inner workings and as strict logic – suggests inconsistencies are not detrimental to knowledge but necessary stages in a game of heightened complexity.

About the artists and their work

Recovering Data Remains: (Re)Working Knowledge gathers, in the space of Färgfabriken, two separate works by Daniel Peltz (SE/USA) and Tina O’Connell/Neal White (IE/UK) that “mine,” perform, and reconstitute multilayered archives and histories. The pieces use different media and approaches (installation, sculpture, performance) to critically and philosophically explore data and its temporality through practices of recovery of lost works and objects. Shifting scales and research frameworks through these practices, the pieces extend scientific methodologies under the heading of “artistic research,” while also asking: What kinds of knowledge and ways of knowing may “artistic research” create or enable and what would it mean to call these kinds of knowledge “scientific”?

Daniel Peltz performatively inhabits the exhibition space with an installation containing remains from the archives of two different artistic research projects he initiated and led in remote industrial towns become tourist sites.

Peltz performatively inhabits the Färgfabriken exhibition space with an installation containing remains from the archives of two different artistic research projects he initiated and led in remote industrial towns become tourist sites:

When we dig, things come up (Narrative fragments, Peking Opera and landscape paintings; Tom Price, Western Australia; 2013–2015) explored the act of mining in a site where open-pit mining has been exploding and reshaping complex geographies and histories. As an American artist-in-residence in a Western Australian town founded on American ambition and greed, Peltz saw his role as something of a reenactment. He “mined” and then “graded” a series of narrative fragments from and about “Tom Price”: the U.S. businessman, the former mountain, and the present day purpose-built mining town and open-pit, iron-ore mine. The selected fragments, graded for purity according to the same standards as iron ore, were then shipped to a Chinese opera company and a Chinese landscape painter, following the same trade routes as the iron-ore. These artists refined the narrative fragments and sent back a traditional Peking Opera, for public exhibition in the town of Tom Price, and a series of landscape paintings, first displayed in the Western Australia Museum in Perth and now relocated in the installation at Färgfabriken.

Performing Labor (Rejmyre, Sweden; 2016-present) investigates the state of the contemporary laboring body. The first stage of the project took place at Reijmyre Glassworks, a glass production factory that has turned to auto-exhibitionist tourism practices to supplement a struggling economic position. In the summer of 2016, two groups of invited artists from different countries played the role of “guest workers” tasked to “think labor” by making “products of and about labor”. Their work resulted in a product line that was woven into the factory’s history on display in the on-site historical museum. Among the products of labor featured in the product line were a series of Break Blowers designed by artist/designer Sissi Westerberg (SE), now exhibited as part of the installation at Färgfabriken. The break is a significant time in the Reijmyre Glassworks, structuring the normative schedule of the labor taking place in the factory. Resulted from Westerberg’s interest in finding ways to “know when to take a break/keep the schedule” and to “get into a different mindspace in the break”, the break blowers play with the notion of the “break time”, opening it up to sublime/otherworldly dimensions.

For the product line, Peltz created Any Thing, consisting of glass plates, clear vinyl audio recording, steel frame and bolt. Any Thing sprang from Peltz’ concern with giving and taking refuge, especially in relation to logging elephants from Burma/Myanmar threatened with unemployment, and from his interest in a video of the rescuing of several objects from one of the lakes around Rejmyre in February 2000. Seventeen years later, Peltz organized a reenactment of the rescuing operation, titled “Seeking an ‘Any Thing’ from an uncertain time in the ruins of Rejmyre’s future”. The group assembled for the reenactment cut a hole in the ice, entered the water and pulled out a series of artifacts buried in the silty bottom. These included glass products, produced at some uncertain period in the factory’s history, and pieces of a linbanevagn [cable car cart]. The linbana was an early transport system that connected the glass factory town of Rejmyre, located deep in the forest that fueled its furnaces, to the railway station in Simonstorp.

Among the rescued objects was also Any Thing, ready to be opened and played. Any Thing released its sounds [extracted from an eco-tourism video posted to Youtube] of a small herd of now unemployed logging elephants laboring in the teak forests of Burma. This acoustic call launched the next stage in Peltz’ research, a plan to bring a small herd of these unemployed logging elephants from Burma to Rejmyre, to think, to imagine and to build a refuge for them. Peltz is currently collaborating with architect Kristoffer Tejlgaard developing an architectural model and drawings for the projected elephant refuge, these elements figure prominently in Peltz’ installation. The architectural model follows the principles of what Peltz has termed “adaptive pre-use”, wherein a structure is designed for a very specific purpose that it will never serve, in order to be repurposed for some unknown purpose.

Installed in the Färgfabriken space, the remains from the archives of Peltz’ two artistic research projects evoke and reconfigure worlds and sites that co-exist across multiple, sometimes incongruous, temporalities and scales. In an interactive performance conceived and performed by Peltz together with performance-maker Ioana Jucan (RO), the remains are reassembled around “holes of history” theatrically transposed from the original sites of Peltz’ two projects into the Färgfabriken space. Recovering objects lost in the “holes of history”, Peltz and Jucan activate the archives of the two projects by playing and commissioning the audience to play different roles according to various performance protocols.

Tina O’Connell and Neal White’s sculpture + installation piece grows out of an ongoing artistic research project which combines their interests in both material practices/sculptural and architectural language, and in the spaces of experimental inquiry in science and art.

O’Connell and White’s sculpture + installation piece grows out of their ongoing artistic research project, All that is Data Melts into Air, which combines their interests in both material practices/sculptural and architectural language, and in the spaces of experimental inquiry in science and art. In its early stages, the project explored the space that data makes, from experimental supercomputer facilities to large sets of personally traced data that could be potentially used to create a situational/psycho-geographical form of intervention in spatio / political terms. The project has involved visiting sites of interest, running a data mapping workshop (Super-Scale PsychoData, Barcelona 2017), as well as removing samples from sites. In particular, a concrete core was removed from the R1 Nuclear Reactor space in Stockholm, which was then analysed by chemists for traces of radioactivity and other chemical compounds. This research in turn led O’Connell and White to start to explore different forms of data visualisation as a way to understand how to move beyond the scientific image of space using data, towards the use of data in space by artists. Informed by time and motion studies and using their own custom-built interface (Arduino and Processing Software with a time lapse on a Digital Camera), O’Connell and White produced a series of images/light paintings with the idea of articulating data relevant to the R1 space, such as seismic data (globally sourced from Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation that monitors Nuclear explosions or locally from Geiger counters measuring radioactivity within the actual space itself).

Continuing this research with an exploration of the differences between the construction of images in science using data or data processing, and the use of data within the artistic image, O’Connell and White have more recently used commercially available tools to produce a series of images of lost Artworks, that is sculptures and in one case, a mural from a destroyed World’s Fair Pavilion, within the public and civic spaces of a small Irish town, which was celebrating a festival of public artworks. O’Connell and White remade these artworks – which had all been destroyed – in situ, using simple lighting techniques.

Drawing on this research, for the piece exhibited at Färgfabriken, O’Connell and White use an advanced technique of light painting to construct images of a series of recovered “lost works” ranging from fragments of cultural artefacts to scientific apparatuses. The light paintings consist of photographs taken both in the R1 Nuclear Reactor and in the Färgfabriken space. Exploring the archives of the works and then using a simple process to create a trace of them in situ, O’Connell and White recover the “lost works” as a form of unmonuments – temporary moments of recreation in time, many of which have their own narratives. The images, along with video and sound, are featured in a structure that takes the shape of a Geodesic Dome displayed at the top of the stairs in the Färgfabriken space.

In addition to the installation at Färgfabriken, O’Connell and White will also organize a tour to the R1 Nuclear Reactor, titled Excursion / Incursion: Deep Architectures of Enquiry (6 October 2017). This former experimental nuclear reactor, a de-contaminated and cleaned subterranean void, is now operating intermittently as an ‘Experimental Performance Space and Presence Laboratory’ at KTH. Set 20 metres deep into the granite strata, the excursion will take visitors down into a space changed by shifts in our knowledge and in our use and need for experimental space. In this case, performance and expert led discussion, coordinated by the artists, will address our knowledge that is informed and shaped by art and science, from deep radiation and the cold war through to data driven concerns today.

Transpositions is a cooperation between the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz and the University of Applied Arts Vienna and is funded by the Austrian Science Fund (PEEK AR 257).

With support from

Recovering Data Remains: (Re)Working Knowledge is made possible by support from the project Transpositions: Artist Data Exploration research project led by Gerhard Eckel, Michael Schwab, David Pirrò.

Key partners

Royal College of Music

Royal Institute of Art

Royal Institute of Technology


University of Music and Performing Arts Graz

University of Applied Arts Vienna